Storm surge crushes crops near Buffalo Lake

Hailstones as big as walnuts reportedly levelled crops between Erskine and Buffalo Lake during the severe summer storm

Farm worker Dan Hofer looks over a damaged field after last Wednesday’s rain and hailstorm struck Stettler and area. Lee Brown’s wheat crop north of Erskine was one of the many local fields hit hard in the storm.

Hailstones as big as walnuts reportedly levelled crops between Erskine and Buffalo Lake during the severe summer storm that swept across the Stettler region last Wednesday.

“We had 55 claims for that day, and five of them had three storms in one day,” said Lorelei Hulston, manager of provincial and central region insurance operations for Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC) office in Stettler.

That AFSC office covers the County of Stettler, east to Halkirk and north and west to Bashaw.

No claims, however, were reported from the Bashaw area, she said.

Damage was mixed, and ranged from 10 per cent to 80 per cent, which is considered typical for hail damage.

“The closer to the lake, the damage was more severe,” Hulston said.

Farms north of Highway 12 and east of Highway 56 reported the most claims, as hail in the region ranged from small pea size to as big as “large grapes,” she said.

The eye of the storm locally appeared to be in the Red Willow area, Hulston said.

“It was big hailstones, just a little smaller than a golf ball,” said Lee Brown, who had part of his crop, about 12 kilometres north of Erskine, seriously damaged.

“It’s a 100-per-cent claim.”

The wheat stood about two-and-a-half-feet high before the storm slammed the field.

“Hail damage affects different crops differently,” Hulton said.

Many types of crop might be able to recover, while others are “totally lost,” she said.

“Now that the crops are headed and in pod, this damage will impact the yield this year. Canola can be resilient at early stages and can recover quite easily.

“Once podded, it is more difficult to recover and has no opportunity to grow more crop.”

Farther east to the Saskatchewan border, 59 claims representing 31,000 acres were reported at the Castor office, with damage ranging from 10 per cent to 100 per cent.

“The hail was larger than in the Stettler area, some golf-ball to tennis-ball size,” Hulston said.

Mostly, though, the storm covered the area north of Castor and travelled eastward.

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